The long jump is a power event that comprises of the following four phases:
To achieve maximum distance in the long jump the athlete will have to balance three components - speed, technique and strength.
The approach run up
The objective of the approach run is for the athlete to achieve the ideal speed. Rhythm in the approach run is important to ensure the ideal speed is achieved at take off and accuracy in hitting the take off board. It is important the athlete develops a good running rhythm before accuracy is addressed. The length of the run will depend on the athlete's age and speed. When first determining the number of strides in the approach run start by matching the number of stride with the athlete's age;
The start of the approach run should be marked and the athlete should commence the start from a standing start. Some athletes use a 'walk on start' or 'run on start' that will provide more initial speed but if not consistent will impact the accuracy of the approach run onto the take off board. The athlete begins the run with a marked forward lean to develop speed but before they reach the take off board, they should be upright. The athlete should be on the balls of the feet as in sprinting with a natural head position, the eyes focused beyond the pit and not at the take off board.
Accuracy of the approach run onto the take off board is established by:
Dr. Graham-Smith and Professor Lees (2002)[3,4] have identified algorithms that will predict an average distance that an athlete would be expected to jump for a given speed. These algorithms are based on official approach speeds and distances collected over a period of ten years from junior and senior championships and Grand Prix events.
The speed, in metres/second (m/s), can be determined by timing the athlete between two markers set at 11 metres and 1 metre from the take off board.
The take off
The preparation for the long jump take-off begins in the later phases of the approach run. The long jumper prepares for take off by sinking the hips and then raising the hips into the take off phase. This usually results in the next to last stride being longer than normal and the final stride being up to 25 centimetres shorter than a normal running stride. It must be emphasised that the hip sink and stride adjustment all happen in response to the athlete's postural adjustments in preparation for the take off. At take off ensure the hips are slightly forward of the shoulders.
The vertical impulse is achieved by the upward acceleration of the "free" limbs, the arms and the non take off leg, against the braced take off leg. These movements should be characterised by short radius (blocked), fast explosive actions.
The head should be carried in a normal position, in line with spine, and the eyes should be focused forward and slightly up.
Research by Focke et al. (2016) suggests that bilateral practice should be established early in youth long-jump training programs to improve the jumping performance of their dominant take-off leg. An article by Katie Bell, "Bilateral long-jump practice ups takeoff leg performance" provides an overview of the research findings.
A bilateral exercise is one where the stress is placed on both limbs e.g. a bicep curl with a barbell or a squat. A unilateral exercise is one where the stress is placed on one limb e.g. bicep curl with a dumbbell. A bilateral exercise is better for increasing overall muscle strength, but it may impact muscle balance, and unilateral exercise is preferred for developing muscle balance.
The flight through the air
Speed and lift generated on the runway and through take off can result in a good distance. After a take off the athlete tends to have forward rotation that, if not corrected, will result in the feet hitting the sand early and a loss of distance in the jump. The cyclic forward movement of the legs and arms, as seen in the hitch-kick for example, will correct this forward rotation.
Optimum take off angle
The take off speed of a male elite long jumper is about 10.5 metres/second in a "run through" (take off angle of zero degrees) and 3.5 metres/second for a vertical jump (take off angle of 90 degrees). This decrease in speed means that the optimum angle of take off is well below 45 degrees. Linthorne et a (2005) identifies that the optimum take off angle for a world-class long jumper may be 21.5°± 3.5°. Research by Lees et al. (1994) identifies that the optimum take off angle for a world-class male long jumper may be 21°± 6°
Long Jump Styles
The Stride Jump
In the stride jump style the athlete maintains the take off position for as long as possible and only as the athlete comes into land does the take off leg join the free leg for a good landing position.
The Hang Style
On take off the athlete drops the free leg to the vertical, which is then joined by the take off leg. The arms go overhead to slow down the rotation about the athlete's centre of gravity. The legs are then lifted upwards and forwards whilst lower the trunk. The arms swing past the legs during the landing phase to ensure a good leg shoot.
Following take off the free leg is straightened and swung back and down as the take off leg folds up beneath the hips and comes forward bent. The take off leg then continues forward, straightening for landing. The free leg completes its backward swing behind the hip and then folds up and moves forwards bent, to join the take off leg ready for landing.
A training program has to be developed to meet the individual needs of the athlete and take into consideration many factors: gender, age, strengths, weaknesses, objectives, training facilities etc. As all athletes have different needs a single program suitable for all athletes is not possible.
Athletes in the Event Group stage
The following is a basic annual training program suitable for athletes in the Event Group development stage:
Athletes in the Event stage
The following is an example of a specific annual training programs suitable for athletes in the Event development stage:
The following evaluation tests can be used to monitor the long jump athlete's development:
Rules of Competition
The competition rules for this event can be obtained from:
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